Newcomers find strategies to deal with the winter

Newcomers who have never experienced weather conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador before could have a hard time adjusting at first.

Winter weather could have an impact on mental health, said guidance counsellor Betha Tobin. A good set of habits and a balanced lifestyle are important to help dealing with the effects of the winter, she said.
Winter weather could have an impact on mental health. A good set of habits and a balanced lifestyle are important to help dealing with the effects of the winter. Photo illustration by Gema Pazmino/Kicker

Gema Pazmino

The weather is a commonly discussed topic among Newfoundlanders, but for newcomers who have never experienced temperatures and conditions like those here, the impact could be more significant.

In the past years, Newfoundland and Labrador has seen an increase of newcomers. There were a record 34,000 landed permanent residents in the province in 2022, according to Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne.

Snow, rain and wind are the three main characteristic of winters in the province – weather conditions that some of the newcomers may have never experienced before.

“It’s all white; you don’t see any colour,” said Palakpreet Kaur, a CNA student from India.

Kaur said she’s accustomed to spending time outside. A sunny day could significantly increase her mood, but a grey day could have the opposite effect.

From transportation to the limitations when going out with friends, Kaur commented how the weather conditions in St. John’s interfere with different aspects of her daily life.

Walking through the snow and relying on the Metrobus is one of the main challenges the weather in St. John’s brings, said Kaur.

Guidance counsellor Bertha Tobin said winter weather is something that affects everybody, from newcomers to people who have been living in the province all their lives.

She explained the importance of maintaining contact with loved ones, since isolation due to weather tends to be very common.

Tobin suggested finding strategies to help coping with the weather, such as journaling, doing yoga and going to the gym.

Lifestyle is key, and getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy food are things everyone should pay attention to, said Tobin.

“All those healthy things we can do with our life to support our mental health,” she added.

Guidance counsellor Bertha Tobin says talking walks during the day could help improve our mood.
Guidance counsellor Bertha Tobin says taking walks outside during the day could improve a person’s mood. There are fewer sunny days during the winter, so it is important to make the most out of them, says Tobin. Gema Pazmino/ Kicker.

For Kaur, she said hanging out at friends’ houses is one of the ways she deals with the consequences the weather brings.

Henry Ly said the snow does not stop him from enjoying one of his favorite activities, cycling.

Ly was born in Belize and arrived in St John’s in September 2023. He said feeling isolated is not a significant problem for him, since sports and university keep him busy.

Regardless the difference between the weather in Belize and in Newfoundland, Ly said he equipped his bicycle properly for the snow and learned how to dress in layers to keep doing the things he loves.

“Dress properly and you’ll be fine,” said Ly, adding that he wished he knew how to dress before arriving in St. John’s.

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